DEMOCRACY AND RESOURCE CONFLICT RESOLUTION: MAKING A CASE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC SOLUTION TO THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS (Published)
It is an incontrovertible fact that the Niger Delta is a region of great and troubling paradox – it is a location of immense wealth as well as inhuman poverty, misery and hardship. This vexed situation has over the years engendered volatile protests and struggles against perceived injustice, disinheritance, marginalization and even exclusion perpetrated against the region by agents of the Nigerian State. As a result, the region has become a veritable laboratory for all sorts of interventionist and conflict resolution mechanisms. All these including the present amnesty program are woefully inadequate to bring about durable peace to the region because they are all devoid of the much needed democratic ingredients. It is against this back drop that the paper is advocating a democratic solution to the Nigerian crisis located in the Niger Delta region. Emphasis here is given to consociational model of democracy that takes into consideration the rights of the ethnic minorities of the region to participatory decision making and governance. Our conclusion is that for Nigeria to experience sustainable peace in the economy jewel of the nation, genuine and determined effort should be made to initiate and institute robust democratic decision making processes and structures in the region as well as the Nigerian nation.
Keywords: Amnesty Program, Consociational Democracy, Democracy, Illiberal, Marginalisation, Niger Delta Crisis, Participatory Governance, Resource Conflict Resolution, Undemocratic Interventionist Mechanisms
The crisis in Nigeria’s Niger Delta rages on. This is despite the fact that different dialogue events have, over the years, been staged to resolve the crisis. The resilience of the crisis and the apparent failure, so far, to solve the crisis by means of dialogue necessitates the need to, as in this paper, examine why dialogue has remained ineffective in the effort to resolve the crisis. The examination is conducted qualitatively. Samples of discourse about the Niger Delta crisis were subjected to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Analysis found that the social mentality in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria is contaminated with narcissism to a degree where interest-bartering stifles the potentials of dialogue to resolve crisis. Conclusion recommends that if the elites of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria are sincere about using dialogue to resolve the crisis, they must free dialogues about the crisis from ideological manipulation.